Schumer in 2015: 'Pause' in Syrian Refugee Program 'May Be Necessary'

Chuck Schumer
Chuck Schumer / AP
January 30, 2017

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said in November 2015 that it may be necessary to halt the program to resettle Syrian refugees in the United States, citing security concerns over terrorism.

On Sunday, however, Schumer castigated President Donald Trump for signing an executive order two days earlier that instituted a temporary pause on the same program, calling it "mean-spirited" while shedding tears.

The New York Democrat had a different view in 2015, when he would not take the option of halting the refugee program off the table to ensure every individual was vetted properly, the Hill reported at the time.

"We're waiting for the briefing tomorrow, a pause may be necessary. We're going to look at it," Schumer said on Nov. 17, 2015. His comments came four days after the Islamic State launched a series of coordinated attacks in Paris that killed 130 people, raising fears in the United States of terrorists disguising themselves as refugees.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) also wrote a letter to then-President Obama the day before Schumer's remarks calling on the administration to not let in any Syrian refugees unless federal authorities could guarantee they are not associated with ISIS.

Schumer now adamantly opposes ending the Syrian refugee program as the Senate's top-ranking Democrat. He also lambasted Trump's executive order in a press conference on Sunday because it bans citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days. The move was meant to target countries that have terrorism problems.

This part of the executive order has been controversial and triggered protests throughout the country.